NFC East: 2011 Week 13 coverage



GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Cowboys tend to have crazy games here at University of Phoenix Stadium. Crazy. From a blocked punt that cost them a game, a missed point-after attempt and now a missed field goal in regulation after an inexplicable timeout call.

The Cowboys defense failed them in the end Sunday during a 19-13 overtime loss to Arizona. It was the Cowboys' third overtime game of the season and first loss in such games.

What it means? The Cowboys' four-game winning streak came to an end in a place that gives them fits. Arizona has won their last three games against Dallas in overtime and five of six at home. The Cowboys' hold on first place in the NFC East is still in good shape.

Jason Garrett's blunder: Dez Bryant caught a first-down pass with 23 seconds left in regulation. The Cowboys spiked the ball, then called a timeout as Dan Bailey converted on a 49-yard kick. It seemed as if they were freezing their own kicker. Bailey missed on the second try as time ran out, and the Cowboys headed to overtime. Why would Jason Garrett call a timeout after spiking the ball?

Murray's day: DeMarco Murray rushed for 38 yards, the lowest output since he became the starter on Oct. 30 at Philadelphia. Murray had rushed for at least 70 yards the last six games until Sunday.

Dan Bailey's streak ends: Kicker Dan Bailey missed a 53-yard field goal in the first quarter, ending his consecutive made field-goal streak at 26 games. But it was his 49-yard field goal try, wide left at the end of regulation, that sent the game to overtime tied at 13-13. The first miss from Bailey marked the first time that's happened since Week 2 at San Francisco. Bailey made field goals of 50 and 37 yards the rest of the way. His 26 field goals tied for the second-longest streak in franchise history and set an NFL record for a rookie kicker.

Cowboys injuries: Tight end Martellus Bennett injured his ribs in the first half and did not return. Wide receiver Laurent Robinson injured a right shoulder but returned after missing a handful of snaps. DeMarcus Ware left the game for one snap when his left arm was nicked up. Danny McCray and Murray also left with leg issues but returned.

Penalties, penalties, penalties: The Cowboys were penalized seven times for 49 yards, and the flags seemed to come at the worst times in the fourth quarter and overtime. Orlando Scandrick was flagged for a block in the back, negating Bryant's punt return that was returned to the Arizona 25. Terence Newman was called for holding on a second-and-long in overtime.

What's next? The Cowboys head home and take on the New York Giants in a big NFC East game next Sunday at Cowboys Stadium.

Rapid Reaction: Packers 38, Giants 35

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
7:45
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the game of the day in the NFL:

What it means: I'm sure New York Giants fans are disappointed in their team's fourth straight loss, but the fact is that the Giants showed all of the same guts and heart and toughness they showed during their 6-2 start but came up just short against a team that might be one of the best of all time. The Packers' Mason Crosby kicked a 30-yard field goal with time running out for a 38-35 win to improve the Packers to 12-0 and drop the Giants to 6-6. But the Giants have proven again that they can play with anyone in the league when their heart is in it. And since they're only one game out of the division lead with four to play (and two of those against the division-leading Cowboys), that still has a chance to serve them well before it's over.

Giants' lines step up: The Giants needed to get to Aaron Rodgers with their defensive line if they were to have any chance to stop him, and they did. Justin Tuck played his best game in weeks, and Jason Pierre-Paul was the same, speedy, unstoppable monster he's been all season. The Giants delivered hits on Rodgers even when they didn't get there in time to sack him, and the Packers went to the run game an uncharacteristic amount in an effort to run clock and keep the pass-rushers off of Rodgers' back. The Giants' offensive line also played a pretty good game, considering it was without its starting left tackle again and center David Baas was a late scratch due to headaches. They weren't great in pass protection, but for some reason the run-blocking was some of the best it's been all season. And with Ahmad Bradshaw back from his foot injury, the run game became a legitimate threat for the Giants again.

Eli Manning doesn't scare: The Giants quarterback was the main reason behind the team's 6-2 start, and even as things haven't gone as well lately, he's remained undaunted and excellent. After the Packers scored to go ahead by eight with 3:34 left in the game, Manning moved his team right back down the field and scored with a touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks with 58 seconds to go. A D.J. Ware run for a two-point conversion tied the game and put the biggest scare yet into the undefeated Packers.

But turnovers kill: You need to be just about perfect to beat a team like the Packers, and as good as Manning was in matching the great Rodgers, he did turn it over twice. The interception that Clay Matthews returned for a touchdown came on what Manning will surely call a "bad-decision" play -- he shouldn't have thrown the ball once he saw the coverage down the field. And while the fumble just before the end of the first half wasn't really his fault, as Matthews whacked him from behind as he was getting ready to throw the ball, it cost the Giants a chance to add valuable points as the first half was winding down.

Kenny Phillips out?: The Giants made no announcement on the Phillips knee injury after he left the game in the first half. But the star safety never returned to the sideline. If he has to miss games, that's going to negatively affect the Giants in pass defense as well as run defense. They like to play three-safety sets and would have to do so without their best one.

What's next: The Giants travel to Dallas on Sunday to play the Cowboys in a Sunday night game with major NFC East implications. The Cowboys' overtime loss to the Cardinals means the Giants still have an opportunity to take control of the division if they can beat the Cowboys on Sunday and again in the regular-season finale on Jan. 1.

Wrap-up: Jets 34, Redskins 19

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
4:30
PM ET
Some thoughts on the Washington Redskins' home loss to the New York Jets on Sunday:

What it means: The result of this game means the Redskins will not have a winning record this season. They are 4-8 with four games left to play. Other than that, it doesn't mean a whole lot, since any reasonable expectation of a playoff appearance for Washington this year went out the window during its six-game losing streak.

Swan song for Fred and Trent: In what appears as though it will be his final game of the season, Redskins tight end Fred Davis caught six passes for 99 yards. He has been the most reliable and important receiving target for the Redskins this year regardless of which quarterback has been under center. But since he and left tackle Trent Williams have been suspended for drug violations for the final four games of the season, neither will play again in 2011. The Redskins will seriously struggle to score points in the season's final months without their very good second-year left tackle and their breakout fourth-year tight end.

Fourth-quarter collapse: The Redskins took a 16-13 lead with 7:52 left in the game, but things completely fell apart after that. A nice kick return set the Jets up at midfield, and Santonio Holmes got behind the defense for a 30-yard touchdown catch from Mark Sanchez. On the following Redskins possession, Rex Grossman took a third-down sack and fumbled the ball away on his own 9-yard line, and Shonn Greene ran in for a touchdown two plays later. Then, after a Graham Gano field goal cut the lead to 27-19, the Redskins flubbed the onside kick attempt and Greene ran in from 25 yards out for the clincher. All that remained was the obligatory Grossman interception, which came on his last pass of the game and extended his streak to eight straight games with at least one.

What's next: The Redskins play another home game against another AFC East team Sunday, this time against the first-place New England Patriots (9-3), who have won four games in a row and have outscored their opponents by an average of 9.5 points per game this season.

Wrap-up: Seahawks 31, Eagles 14

December, 1, 2011
12/01/11
11:25
PM ET
Some thoughts on the Philadelphia Eagles' latest new low -- an uninspired 31-14 loss to the Seahawks on Thursday night in Seattle that ended their mathematical chances at even a winning season:

What does it mean?: The Eagles are losers. It's as simple as that. One more loss will ensure a losing record for a team that does nothing as well as it does losing. There was absolutely no excuse for the defense to come out the way it did in this game, playing soft, missing tackles and watching Marshawn Lynch, who it knew was Seattle's only real weapon, run over it at will. There was no excuse for DeSean Jackson, who's still moping about his contract after insisting he wouldn't, to be giving up on deep routes when he's the only deep threat the team has. There was no excuse for the Eagles' penalties, for not calling timeout after a third-down stop with a minute left in the first half, for sending 12 men onto the field for a punt return and having to call a timeout when they were still in the game and looked as though they might need their timeouts. These are the careless, lazy, undisciplined acts of losing players and losing teams, and whatever the Eagles might have been or should have been, this is what they are. They are 4-8. They are the most disappointing flop of a team in the entire league. They are losers.

How much can Andy Reid weather? In spite of rampant fan dissatisfaction and local media fatigue, there has to this point been no indication that the Eagles' front office intends to hold this one horrible season against Reid and fire him in spite of the previous 12 years of success. But if they keep losing -- as in, if they lose all the rest of their games and finish 4-12, which is possible given the effort they're putting forth right now -- you have to wonder whether that will change. And Reid is coaching like a guy who either doesn't know what to do or is trying to get himself run out of town. I still can't figure out why a guy who's legitimately trying to win a game wouldn't call that timeout with a minute left in the half.

Vince Young is not a good quarterback: Look, I'll allow that he was one of the few Eagles players who actually looked as though he cared. He wanted to win this game. He was out there making the best throws he could. He threw a killer block that helped LeSean McCoy pick up a first down. And he hit some receivers (Clay Harbor, Riley Cooper) in the hands a couple of times and saw them just drop the ball. But two of the four interceptions -- including the fourth-quarter backbreaker -- were the result of awful decision-making. He nearly threw another in the end zone earlier in the game because he took too long to throw the ball. He's not accurate or smooth or reliable, and this whole idea that some people were spouting a couple of weeks ago that the Eagles would be better off with him than with Michael Vick has been proved false and foolish.

However: With all now lost and no chance left at the playoffs, you have to wonder whether the Eagles might just shut down Vick and let him come back fully healthy and well rested for 2012. He puts himself at risk when he plays, and they certainly can milk the broken-ribs thing for four more games if they decide the best course of action for the future of their franchise is to protect Vick from injury in the final month of a lost season. Ditto guys such as Jeremy Maclin, Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and others who have been grappling with injuries that have limited them or prevented them from playing. With nothing left to play for, why rush back from an injury and play at less than 100 percent? We could be seeing a lot of these backups the rest of the way.

Injury bummer: Eagles special teams star Colt Anderson, who had legitimate Pro Bowl hopes and a ton of friends and family in the stands for this game, tore the ACL in his right knee and will miss the remainder of the season. Anderson is the heart and soul of the Eagles' coverage units, and one of the few on the team who played consistently hard all season. It's sad for him that he won't get to finish it.

What's next? The Eagles will travel to Miami and play the Dolphins a week from Sunday. The Dolphins are another team that has eight losses, like the Eagles do. The Dolphins could have nine by then, but regardless, if you can't stop Tarvaris Jackson and Golden Tate, you're probably not going to stop Matt Moore and Brandon Marshall, either.

SPONSORED HEADLINES